At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

22 July 2019

22 July

Gorni Kramer - jazz musician


Multi-talented composer of more than 1,000 songs

The songwriter, musician and band leader Gorni Kramer was born on this day in 1913 in the village of Rivarolo Mantovano, near Mantua.  An accomplished accordion and double bass player, Kramer later became a record producer, arranger and television writer.  His embrace of the jazz and swing genres developed in spite of them banned from being played on Italian state radio during the Fascist era.  He was a prolific composer thought to have written more than 1,000 songs during a career that spanned 60 years.  Kramer’s non-Italian sounding name led to a popular misconception that he was born in another country, yet it was his real name - reversed.  He was born Francesco Kramer Gorni, so named because his father was a fan of the American cycling world champion Frank Kramer.  It was from his father that Gorni inherited his passion for music, having played the accordion in his father’s band.  Gorni studied double bass at the Conservatory in Parma and obtained his diploma in 1930. He began to work as a musician for dance bands, then in 1933, aged 20, formed his own jazz group.  Read more…


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Palermo falls to the Allies


Capture of Sicilian capital triggered ousting of Mussolini

One of the most significant developments of the Second World War in Italy occurred on this day in 1943 when Allied forces captured the Sicilian capital, Palermo.  A battle took place between General George S Patton’s Seventh Army and some German and Italian divisions but it was not a prolonged affair.  The Sicilians themselves by then had little appetite to fight in a losing cause on behalf of the Germans and the invading soldiers were greeted by many citizens as liberators.  It was not a decisive victory for the Allies but it had a symbolic value, signifying the fall of Sicily only 12 days after Allied forces had crossed the Mediterranean from bases in North Africa. When news reached Rome that Palermo had fallen, the Fascist Grand Council, who had for some time given only uneasy support to Mussolini, knew that something had to be done to limit the damage of what now looked like an inevitable defeat for the Axis powers in Italy.  Two days after the fall of Palermo, after Mussolini had told the Grand Council that Hitler was thinking of withdrawing German forces from the south of Italy, a motion calling for Mussolini’s removal from power was passed.  Read more…

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Indro Montanelli – journalist


Veteran writer who cast a critical eye on Italian politics and society

One of the greatest Italian writers and journalists of the 20th century, Indro Montanelli, died on this day in 2001 in Milan.  The previous year he had been named as one of 50 World Press Freedom Heroes by the International Press Institute.  Montanelli had been a witness to many of the major events of the 20th century. He was in Danzig when Hitler rejected the ultimatum from Britain and France in September 1939. He was in the streets of Budapest in 1956 when Soviet tanks rolled in and he was shot in the legs by Red Brigades terrorists on an Italian street in 1977.  Montanelli was born Indro Alessandro Raffaello Scizogene Montanelli in 1909 at Fucecchio near Florence.  He began his journalistic career by writing for the Fascist newspaper, Il Selvaggio.  He then worked as a crime reporter for Paris Soir before serving as a volunteer with Italian troops in the Eritrean Battalion in Ethiopia - Abyssinia as it was then - where what he saw caused him to change his mind about Benito Mussolini, the Fascist leader, after which the regime took exception to some of his writing and withdrew his press accreditation. Read more…

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St Lawrence of Brindisi


Talented linguist who converted Jews and Protestants

St Lawrence of Brindisi was born Giulio Cesare Russo on this day in 1559 in Brindisi.  He became a Roman Catholic priest and joined the Capuchin friars, taking the name Brother Lawrence.  He was made St Lawrence in 1881, remembered for his bravery leading an army against the Turks armed only with a crucifix.  Lawrence was born into a family of Venetian merchants and was sent to Venice to be educated. He joined the Capuchin order in Verona when he was 16 and received tuition in theology, philosophy and foreign languages from the University of Padua. He progressed to be able to speak many European and Semitic languages fluently.  Pope Clement VIII gave Lawrence the task of converting Jews living in Rome to Catholicism because of his excellent command of Hebrew. Lawrence also established Capuchin monasteries in Germany and Austria and brought many Protestants back to Catholicism.  While serving as the imperial chaplain to the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolph II, he led an army against the Ottoman Turks threatening to conquer Hungary armed only with a crucifix and many people attributed the subsequent victory to his leadership.  Read more…

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